After all, do I try to give them advice on quantum mechanics?
(Via Fark) There are some people trying to be ‘helpful’ on understanding the ongoing bloodsucking menace – and, in the time-honored tradition of scientists opining outside their field, they’re being less useful than if they had just been quiet about the whole thing.
If vampires are indeed living (unliving?) among us, then shouldn’t we have seen an undead population explosion by now?
Fortunately, our best minds are on the case. Physicists Costas Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi’s paper “Cinema Fiction vs. Physics Reality” offers a full explanation.
Efthimiou and Gandhi conduct a thought experiment: Assume that the first vampire appeared on January 1, 1600. At that time, according to data available at the U.S. Census website, the global population was 536,870,911. Efthimiou and Gandhi calculate that, once the Nosferatu feeding frenzy began, the entire human race would have been wiped out by June 1602 (thus forever changing the course of history by preventing the invention of the slide rule eighteen years later).
Having tracked down the paper in question, I am thoroughly unsurprised to see that the typical “assume the cow is a sphere” thinking predominates. As I suspected, the authors fairly obviously based their assumptions on research that was originally gathered to track zombies: this is a common problem, as the basic reference and engineering texts for that field of research benefits from a general consensus in the academic community. The conclusion that said research is applicable to other aspects of Undead Studies is not unique to Efthimiou and Gandhi.
Unfortunately, the field of ‘Undead Studies’ is a social construct, not a physical one: it is really a cross-disciplinary field that encompasses not only a plethora of various supernatural types, but also individual sub-species within those types. As even a cursory look at the literature will reveal, there is precisely zero consensus over what even constitutes a vampire, let alone its feeding habits, lifespan, and/or reproductive cycle. I am also forced to wonder where there is a sort of Balkanocentric bias being displayed by Efthimiou and Gandhi; contrary to flashy researchers, there is no reason why we should use the nosferatu over, say, the penanggalen for basic research data. There’s not even an agreement in the community that vampires are a single-prey species! All in all, I find their base assumptions laughable.
And as for their critics! I grant that the mathematicians did raise interesting points on birth rates and food supply, but to discuss this topic without actually looking at real biological predator/prey life cycles (or, as my engineer wife suggests, viral infection cycles) is practically criminal. Moving from them to the economists… honestly, dragging in the social sciences to answer a problem that is clearly primarily the province of biology is inane at best and unholy meddling in God’s domain at worst. In other words, the Smithsonian has the right idea:
Time to consult the zoology journals.
Indeed. At least, the cryptozoology journals.